Why attendance and participation grades shouldn’t be mandatory


University classes are demanding on the student body, and in the last year and a half with COVID-19 thrown into the mix, they became even more difficult. Classes began to shift their focus away from grading students on assessments and towards grading them on attendance and participation. 

While this was manageable during in-person classes, online there are a variety of factors that come into play which can affect a student’s performance in these sections. My opinion is that grading on attendance and participation in online classes should not be mandatory. 

To start off, I believe attendance grades – in online classes – should not be mandatory. The school and professors should consider the internet connectivity situations students may have. Most of my experiences with attendance during classes is that it is taken at the beginning of class, so if a student were to miss that first 10-15 minutes, they could potentially miss out on marks being awarded – which is unfair.

There is also a point to be made about international students and the time differences they must deal with in order to attend class and achieve these attendance marks. 

New advancements over the past year have shown us that students can engage with classes asynchronously and catch up later with recordings and class notes.  In my opinion, I think a student should prioritize their mental health over attending a class they can easily catch up on. 

If a student is not feeling at their 100%, they wouldn’t be able to process the information even if they attended class synchronously. In that case, what’s the point of attending class? The idea of attendance marks is something that has scared me personally into going to a class I knew I wasn’t going to pay attention to. 

Mandatory participation in my opinion falls in the same boat as attendance marks. It is something that already makes students uncomfortable and then adding the pressure of participating for grades is an even worse situation. Participation marks are also something that benefits some students rather than others. If a student is more outgoing or willing to participate in class, they would be the one sharing on a weekly basis. On the other hand, if there is a student who is quieter or less keen on public speaking, they may not get a chance to participate at all. 

Of course, I do see the other side of this discussion where professors use attendance or participation marks to raise the engagement in the class. It is always an option for the professors to collect attendance or participation for their own benefits, however, I do believe that grades in these areas should be out of the question.

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